Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence
Over the years the Legal 500 has recommended Colin McDevitt
“Gets results” (2016)
is “brilliant at absorbing lots of detail and cutting to the main points” (2016)
is “thorough, and has an eye for detail” (2015)
“understands the law and the needs of the client alike” (2015)
is “an astute advocate, who will always fight your corner” (2014)
is “down to earth and personable” (2014)
has experience “in a number of complex discrimination cases” (2014)
is “excellent on his feet and on paper” (2013)
What Judges Say
The following comments have been made by Judges of cases in which Colin McDevitt has appeared
- Mrs Justice Slade: “Mr McDevitt’s points have been put succinctly and crisply in his outline written submissions. He has been instructed at short notice but that does not detract from the cogency of his arguments to us”
- HHJ Freeland QC, Central London County Court: Colin McDevitt’s client has been “excellently advised by a very competent and experienced legal representative” and “the advice from [Mr McDevitt] had been first class”
- Judge Ferris: “Mr McDevitt’s advocacy has been of high quality”
- Judge Heal: Mr McDevitt is “experienced counsel using sophisticated cross-examination”
Colin McDevitt read Biochemistry and Physiology at University and then worked for a number of years in pharmaceuticals. His background in the life sciences and experience in industry gives him an invaluable understanding of the medical and commercial aspects of the claims he assists with. He specialises in personal injury, clinical negligence and fatal accident claims including those with multiple injuries and claims with experts from a number of disciplines. He receives regular instructions from his solicitors in the following areas.
- Employers’ liability (workplace regulations including manual handling operations regulations)
- Industrial injuries (including HAVS)
- Defective machinery
- Occupiers’ liability
- Road traffic accidents
- Clinical negligence (including cosmetic surgery, dental)
- Ancillary matters including: Extension of time for issuing a claim form; Limitation; Contribution; Causation (including medical causation); Costs; Costs-only proceedings.
Colin McDevitt is a member of the Personal Injuries Bar Association (PIBA) and the Professional Negligence Bar Association (PNBA)
CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE NOTABLE CASES
K v Dr B (GP), Walton Centre NHS Trust and Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust [2014 and ongoing]
A claim in which the claimant had presented with papilloedema but who went blind in both eyes at the age of 20 years. The claim is that the claimant’s GP failed to refer him with sufficient urgency for specialist investigation and that the specialist centres to which he was eventually referred both negligently delayed proper treatment by way of lumbar puncture or other means to reduce his raised intracranial pressure. Causation is disputed and the claim is, naturally, of significant value given the claimant’s youth and the effect of his disability.
B v Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust [2013 and ongoing]
Representing the claimant who underwent a trapeziectomy operation on her wrist to relieve symptoms of arthritis. Due to a surgical blunder the wrong bone was excised (the scaphoid instead of the trapezium). The Trust denied liability on the basis of the inherent risk of scaphoidectomy when undergoing trapeziectomy. After receiving the Particulars Of Claim which argued a lack of informed consent as well as complaining about the surgical technique, the trust conceded liability. The claimant underwent numerous pain blocks, suffered carpal collapse and was treated by way of a 4 corner fusion to stabilize her wrist. This latter procedure was unsuccessful and the claimant had to undergo wrist arthrodesis. The injury is significant with significant ongoing problems.
A v Dartford NHS Trust [2013 and ongoing]
Acting for the estate, infant daughter and husband of a deceased young wife and mother who was a lupus sufferer. She attended A&E complaining that her throat was “closing up” but was discharged home. Within an hour she suffered a cardiac arrest and fell into a coma. After living in a persistent vegetative state for 18 months she then passed away. Whilst breach of duty (the discharge home) was admitted, the issues of causation and quantum are being litigated. A very high value claim.
A v Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust [2013 and ongoing]
A young woman was subjected to an over-zealous vaginal investigation shortly before giving birth which caused a third degree perineal tear, resulting in faecal and urinary incontinence. She is not likely to return to employment due to her physical injuries and resulting depression. Breach of duty, causation and quantum was initially disputed but, after pleadings, liability was admitted. The claimant has a significant risk of deterioration in her condition. Provisional damages are claimed.
S v Southend University Hospital NHS Trust [2013 and ongoing]
Acting for the claimant who acquired a non-negligent bacterial infection after undergoing an elective total hip replacement. There was then a negligent failure to timeously diagnose a gram negative infection followed by a further negligent delay in performing a radical debridement and exchange of components. In addition there was treatment of the E.coli infection with an antibiotic to which the organism was resistant. Causation and quantum are disputed. The claimant has a life-long need for antibiotic therapy and the prospect of completely losing her hip joint. Her business failed and there is a complex claim for loss of business, dividends and earnings.
B v North Cumbria University Hospital NHS Trust 
The claimant was prescribed oral ciproflaxin antibiotics which caused the rupture of his Achilles tendon. The claim arose from a lack of informed consent due both to the absence of a warning of the risk of tendon damage and to the absence of advice to immediately cease taking the antibiotic if symptoms suggestive of tendinitis are experienced. The claim was successfully compromised.
A v The Hospital Group [2012-2013]
Acting for the claimant who underwent cosmetic surgery procedures of liposuction and abdominoplasty. There were many allegations of negligence including a breach of the heparinisation protocol by the continued prescription of the anticoagulant Clexane, a failure to review Clexane administration after substantial blood transfusion, the provision of a substandard discharge letter and a delay in re-admitting the claimant to hospital for debridement once the wound infection was suspected. The claimant was left with bilateral dog ears, extensive scarring and a loss of the claimant’s belly button with a revised belly button being anatomically misplaced. The claimant required 4 remedial surgical procedures. The claim was strongly resisted but it was compromised a month before trial.
S v Barking, Havering And Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust 
Representing the claimant who underwent elective total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy for the treatment of endometriosis and a large ovarian cyst. As a result of the procedure the claimant developed a vesico-vaginal fistula. During the said procedure no record was made of any adhesions or endometriosis involving either the bladder or in the region between the uterus and the bladder. Towards the end of the hysterectomy and closure of the vaginal vault there was bleeding from the bladder base and additional haemostasis was required to the bladder base. After diagnosis of the vesico-vaginal fistula, the claimant underwent laparotomy with closure of the vesico-vaginal fistula. The allegations of negligence included: poor surgical technique (the surgeon tore the claimant’s bladder muscle during mobilisation of the bladder off the cervix as a result of the dissection being in the wrong tissue plane); and the surgeon used excessive electrodiathermy to stem the bleeding from the base of the bladder, causing avascular necrosis. The claim was successfully compromised.
L v Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust 
A claim for alleged negligent treatment when the claimant underwent a total abdominal hysterectomy for the treatment of uterine fibroids. The procedure was carried out via a low transverse laparotomy incision and was technically moderately difficult because of distorted anatomy, mainly due to a large fibroid on the right hand side. The operation notes made no mention of the ureters. Within a week of discharge from hospital the claimant was in severe left sided groin pain caused by damage to an ureter. The claimant developed a number of urinary tract infections. The claim was that the total abdominal hysterectomy procedure was carried out negligently because there was no attempt to identify the course of the right ureter during the surgery, resulting in the right ureter being accidentally tied. The contemporaneous operation notes made no mention of the position of the ureter or of any attempt to locate the ureter by palpation or dissection at any time during the hysterectomy. The claim was successfully compromised.
P v Choudhuri 
Acting for the claimant who underwent a breast-enhancing injection of hyaluronic acid. She claimed she did not give informed consent due to a failure to inform of the risks of the procedure and the lack of any “cooling off” period. The claimant developed encapsulated cysts which required remedial surgery. The claim involved allegations of tampering with medical records and allegations amounting to fraudulent non-payment for the procedure. The claim was compromised 2 weeks before trial.
C v Harley Medical Group 
Acting for the claimant who underwent a breast reduction procedure in the absence of a warning as to the risks of fat necrosis if the claimant did not lose weight. The procedure resulted in fat necrosis and infection which required 4 further operations to debride the wounds, close the wounds and cosmetically revise the scars. The claimant suffered pain, distress and anxiety.
B v Royal Bournemouth Hospital 
An administrative failure led to a 6 month delay in the claimant undergoing a hysterectomy which resulted in an aggressive cancer significantly reducing the claimant’s 5 year survival rate. The defendant disputed causation and quantum before the claim was compromised.
A v Jersey 
Acting for the infant claimant who was born 3 months after her father’s death from pituitary adenoma at the age of 29 years. The dependency claim on behalf of the child arose out of the negligence of an ophthalmologist who failed to diagnose the deceased’s condition. Very high value claim.
PERSONAL INJURY NOTABLE CASES
Z v Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority – Appeal 
A harrowing case in which a young woman’s motherhood sparked a complete deterioration in her well-being due to the surfacing of her own serious and sustained sexual abuse by her own parents. The claimant was abused for 19½ years, including being raped on a nightly basis from the age of 8 years to 18 years. Her mother committed suicide shortly after she was charged. The claimant had to give evidence against her father in her father’s criminal trial. The claimant made an application to the Compensation Authority as a litigant in person and was awarded £22,000. The claimant then instructed solicitors to appeal the award and Colin was instructed to assist with the appeal. The CICA defended the appeal which raised issues including the correct level of injury (the tariff), the multiplier, discounts to be applied to the multiplier, the claimant’s future capacity for work, the claimant’s need for future treatment and the claimant’s care requirement. The appeal was overwhelmingly successful and the claimant’s compensation was increased to a figure just below £¼ million.
Various Claimants v Frimley Hall Hotel And Tylney Hall Hotel [2013 and ongoing]
Acting for various claimants who were poisoned by campylobacter when eating chicken liver pate. One series of claims involves a wedding celebration in which almost half of the guests were infected, including the bride and groom whose honeymoon was ruined. The bride’s symptoms will last many years as a result of her developing post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome. In the other series of claims the claimants were poisoned when celebrating Christmas and, again, some diners have significant ongoing symptoms.
T v Guildford Orthodontics 
Acting for the 24 year old claimant dental nurse who fell onto both wrists, injuring the ligaments on her dominant side. She required surgical treatment but suffered surgical collapse. Her wrist was plated and showed disuse atrophy. The injury resulted in a permanent disability and restriction in function and pinch strength. A tactical decision was taken to resolve liability issues (including contributory negligence) before those related to quantum (due to the size of the quantum claim). The claim was successfully compromised for a significant figure.
S v AIG 
A liability-admitted claim with a complex of issues in relation to quantum. The claimant had been made redundant 9 months before the accident and then begun a new business venture on a cash-in-hand basis in partnership with his father. There was a paucity of documentary evidence and a forensic accountant’s report which required critical analysis. Tactical advice was given in relation to the benefit of further medical evidence and the likely outcome of further medical opinion and further advice was given in relation to how the court was likely to approach the claimant’s loss of earnings claim. Ultimately the claim was successfully compromised.
P v Elior UK Ltd 
The 16 year old claimant was injured when working in a summer job. She had been a gifted sportswoman with a bright and promising future in basketball and karate. The claimant’s shoulder was injured and she underwent several remedial surgical procedures. The injury was complicated by the claimant’s congenitally lax ligaments. All aspects of the claim were disputed. The claim included losses associated with the claimant’s future career as a professional sportswoman and coach and a loss of congenial employment. The claim was successfully compromised for a significant sum.
J v North Devon Council and Abacus Recruitment Limited [ 2013]
A low value claim but one involving issues of the applicability of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The claimant client severed a nerve in his hand and suffered scarring when directed by the council to collect recycling, including glass. His glove was perforated by broken glass. Neither defendant accepted that they had supplied the gloves to the claimant and both denied they had a duty under the regulations to provide suitable gloves – each blamed the other and they both blamed the claimant for the accident. The claim was compromised shortly before trial with both defendants contributing to the settlement.
G v O’Shea 
Acting for the claimant who fell 18 feet from a ladder inside a lift shaft that was being constructed. He suffered a brain and orthopaedic injuries causing cognitive, psychiatric and physical symptoms. There were issues of contributory negligence, causation and quantum. Each side instructed 5 experts to deal with the myriad of injuries. Extensive past and future losses were claimed and the parties attended procedural hearings and a joint settlement meeting. The claim was successfully compromised.
H v Zmudka 
Acting for the claimant who was injured in an accident which damaged her spine and caused psychiatric symptoms. The claim involved detailed analysis of video surveillance evidence in respect of the significance of which the experts disagreed. Significant damages were claimed and the claim was successfully compromised at a joint settlement meeting.
M v Bellemoor School 
Acting for the 12 year old claimant student who was assaulted by a teacher while at school causing minor physical but significant psychological injury. He became isolated within his community and withdrew from religious and cultural activities. He became electively mute as a result of PTSD. There was a dispute as to causation and it was alleged that the claimant’s allegedly dysfunctional family had contributed to a large extent to his symptoms. Difficult claim to quantify given the effect on the claimant’s schooling.
D v Bunney 
Acting for the passenger in a car who suffered serious injury when the driver lost control on black ice. The claimant suffered significant injuries to his chest, lungs and spine. He was kept in hospital for 17 days. There was a substantial dispute on liability. The claim was compromised shortly before trial.